Multinational technology conglomerate, Meta, in collaboration with the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) on Wednesday launched the AMBER Alert Programme to help find missing children across the country.
With the launch, Nigeria becomes the second country in Africa and the 29th country in the world to join the Meta AMBER alert programme. According to Meta, the programme increases the chances of finding missing children by putting more people on the lookout for them. The company explained that when an AMBER Alert is activated by law enforcement, the alert will appear on the Facebook and Instagram Feed of users within the designated search area, enabling them to share the information instantly with friends or contact the authorities if they have leads.
The AMBER Alert is also designed to include important information about the missing child such as a photo description, location of the abduction, and other relevant and available information to aid in immediately identifying the missing child.
Emily Vacher, Meta’s director of Trust and Safety, speaking at the official launch in Abuja said the most valuable thing one can do when there is a reported case of a missing child is to share information as quickly as possible. “By working with law enforcement in helping to share the right information with the right people, we hope that missing children will be safely reunited with their families faster,” she said.
On how the programme works, Meta explained that the decision to declare an AMBER Alert is made by NAPTIP if it meets their Amber Alert criteria which includes: The abduction is of a child aged 17 or younger; NAPTIP must have reasonable belief that there has been an abduction; NAPTIP believes the victim is in imminent danger of serious bodily harm or exploitation; and there is enough descriptive information about the victim and suspected abduction for law enforcement to issue an AMBER Alert to assist in recovering the child.
In her keynote address, Fatima Waziri-Azi, the director general of NAPTIP expressed concerns that Nigeria is seeing rising cases of abduction especially in the North. According to her, “a child being abducted is a parent’s worst nightmare and we all know that swift and collective response to abductions cases is key to finding missing children.”
“This innovation will impact our investigative and rescue efforts.
The launch is timely as NAPTIP and other law enforcement agencies are grappling with incremental cases of missing children,” she added. The AMBER Alert Programme was launched on Facebook in 2015 and since then has assisted in hundreds of successful child endangerment cases in the US and around the world.
As part of the launch of AMBER Alerts in Nigeria, Meta and NAPTIP will be educating users in Nigeria on how to identify AMBER Alerts on their feed and what to do when they see an alert.